CARLSBAD — The City of Carlsbad's Art Commission has undertaken a model effort to introduce its citizens to art in public places.
"An Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition for Carlsbad," coordinated by David Lewinson, features work by 10 artists distributed among three sites. Though not site-specific, and only temporarily installed (through Nov. 29), the sculptures have been integrated well into their environments to encourage chance meetings and casual perusal.
The diversity of artistic approaches gives the community an opportunity to explore the possibilities of outdoor sculpture and to embrace the idea of public art without necessarily favoring each individual example.
Curated in this educational, pluralistic spirit, the Carlsbad show offers work ranging from accommodating to challenging. Two examples of the first sort sit on the lawn at the entrance to the Carlsbad Library at Pio Pico Drive and Elm Avenue.
The two life-sized, naturalistic terra cotta figures, portraits of each other by artists Evelyn Largent and Mary Lou Tursick, are easily accessible and appealing to those awed by the powers of artistic illusion.
David Beck Brown's painted steel construction, "Transition," stands adjacent to the figures and, while requiring more effort of viewers, offers those who consider it thoughtfully an expanded, intensified vision. The work offers a passage, a transition from casual sight to thoughtful observation by providing a rectangular outline, suspended within a larger framework, that frames a section of the environment. As the viewer's position shifts, so does the random section framed, each becoming newly monumentalized and subject to deliberation.
Rod Baer's "Visions from Flatland: Rusted Heap No.1" (at Stagecoach Park on Mission Estancia) also encourages acute observation by placing the viewer in the position of artist.
Baer's steel sculpture of an easel, canvases, brushes and paint stands rusted and abandoned. Nostalgia and memory pervade the imagination when standing where the imaginary painter would have stood. One faces row upon row of pale stucco condominiums and is drawn to mourn both the loss of the pure landscape and the ruins of the artistic enterprise that aimed to capture it.
Also showing work at Stagecoach Park are Christopher Lee, Michael Johnson, Rod Jermyn and Ron Tatro. Max DeMoss' work appears at the City Hall/Library complex and Kenneth Capps' at Holiday Park on Pio Pico between Elm and Chestnut Avenue.
On Nov. 21 and 22, at Stagecoach Park, artist Christine Oatman will complete the exhibit by presenting a miniature cardboard neighborhood constructed by third-grade students under her tutelage.
For more information, call the Carlsbad Cultural Arts office.
A small but interesting group of works by photographer Glen Doll is on view through Nov. 21 at the A.R.T./Beasley Gallery (2802 Juan St.).
Doll's subject is an extinct volcanic crater in the Arizona desert that is being sculpted by artist James Turrell into an observatory of celestial phenomena. Doll's video, "A View of Roden Crater," like Turrell's work, regards the crater with mystical reverence, as a theater for spiritual/celestial/cultural convergence. The video's beautiful montages of the landscape in shifting light and seasons seem the visual equivalent of its "new age" or "space music" sound track--peaceful and meditative, but verging on numbing.
Doll also has made color photocopies of his still photographs of the site, which he cut and torn and assembled as collages. Those with torn fragments aligned along a grid framework give the soft landscape an incongruous sterile dimension.
But the works that slice the landscape into interwoven colored strips impose a wonderful, syncopated rhythm on the natural terrain. Many of these, with their dusty, desert tones, have the same calming, meditative quality as the video. The crater form does not figure directly in every image, but it is to Doll's credit that its monumental, spiritual presence is implied throughout.
In "Visceral Devotions," a show of recent paintings, drawings and constructions at Grossmont College Art Gallery (8800 Grossmont College Drive), Lynn Schuette appears to have crossed the threshold of a new and very forceful style.
Four large (up to 6 by 9 feet) paintings dominate the gallery with an emphatic physicality and energy. Lushly painted in sweeping strokes of crimson, flesh tones and cool green on solid black grounds, the works are unrestrained explorations of life forces.
The hearts, lungs, spines and rib cages that recur in Schuette's work here appear as containers of life's energy, and these are Schuette's odes to them.